black fever
Francisco de Goya- Desastres de la Guerra (the plague hospital scene).

Nature often provides some kind of indication when disaster is about to strike. Tornadoes have signature cloud formations. Hurricanes often have a build up of winds and precipitation that continually worsen. Earthquakes have given small tremors over a series of days before a serious quake hits.

Pandemics are often the same. The Black Death, or Black Fever, followed nearly 20 years of staggeringly catastrophic natural disasters before it unleashed its wrath. This timeline chronicles some of the most noted disasters to hit Europe and Asia prior to, or during, the plague.



Severe drought and famine came to China around the Yangtze and Huai rivers. Yangtze is the longest river in Asia. Violent torrents of rain drowned the country near Kingsai, the Chinese capital city. Most historic accounts claim over 400,000 died due to the weather extremes. The mountain named Tsincheai imploded.

Mt. Etna, the Sicilian volcano, also erupted during this period.

Some historians report that a new and voracious plague made landfall this year along the Pacific coast. They claimed it ravaged China for 13 years before reaching Europe, and it followed the strange and brutal weather that affected the civilized world.



Guangzhou, China, suffered from repeated flash flooding. In Zhejiang, another drought brought a strange plague that killed an estimated 5,000,000.

An earthquake hit Kingsai. The mountains at Ki-Ming-Chan fell in and a lake formed. The disasters killed thousands.



Houkouang and Hunan endured a drought of 5 months. Swarms of locusts destroyed vegetation. Disease and famine followed.



Tremendous thunderstorms were reported in France.



An estimated 4 million people died from the famine in Chiang. The region was also hit with flooding, locusts, and an earthquake that lasted for 6 days.

Franconia, Germany, was first visited by locusts, which would devour the area for 2 years.



Another extended earthquake hit Kingsai, lasting 10 days.

The crops across France failed due to the dramatic weather changes.



The earthquakes, the series of unusual natural disasters, famines, and plagues came to an abrupt end.

Floods hit Germany and France along the Rhine, not attributed to rain. Witnesses at the time had no idea where so much water came from, as it was not due to precipitation. Natural springs suddenly began to pump countless gallons of water, creeks and streams from the mountaintops surged forth.



Hong-tchang, the Chinese mountain, caved in and caused a severe flood. Pien-tcheai and Leang-tcheou, the ancient Chinese regions, both suffered five months of rain. The resulting floods destroyed seven cities.

Egypt and Syria were plagued with earthquakes.



Ven-tchiou suffered an earthquake that brought about a tsunami, called a “sea overflow” in historic times. Canton endured further quakes and subterranean thunder.



A number of accounts in Prague mention a terrible epidemic growing in China, India, and Persia.

The plague rapidly approached and only around a year later, Europe would feel what nations abroad had endured.



As nature calmed in China, a plague came to Constantinople by December.

Italy experienced a tremendous burden with their poor. Bakeries were constructed to provide the people with bread in April. The average production for the bakeries was 94,000 loaves.

In December of this year, a fleet of merchant ships arrived in the harbor at Geneva, Italy. The curious mariners would find the ships were not deserted, but the crew had already died. The investigators would then carry the disease into the city, and into the rest of Europe.

It is estimated that the Black Death had already killed well over 30 million in Asia before it even entered Europe.



Plague had hit Europe, but natural disasters came with it. It is no wonder the peoples of the time believed diabolical forces had been unleashed upon the earth.

On January 25, an earthquake hit Greece and Italy. The tremors also reached into Naples, Rome, Bologna, and many other towns. Entire villages were swallowed. Thousands were buried alive. Italy experienced a crop failure this year due to four months of rainfall.

Carinthia, Austria, saw over 30 villages demolished in the quake. Rescue efforts yielded over a thousand corpses beneath the rubble. The quake was so devastating that many scholars of the era stated most mountains had shifted from their original position. Quakes were also reported in France, Poland, Denmark, England, Sweden, and in locations farther north.

Mammoth iceberg formations appeared on the east coast of Greenland, and it is said no one has seen the costal ground beneath since. Minor quakes returned to Europe on occasion throughout 1360.

Cyprus, the Greek island, suffered an earthquake and a subsequent hurricane. A tsunami destroyed the harbor ships. The island’s fertile and lush landscape turned into desert-like environment. The air was filled with a strange stench, believed to be the plague germ centuries ago. Many died from just breathing the toxic air.

Witnesses alive during the time of the Black Death reported a thick, stinking mist advanced from the east. Many believed it was something from the decomposition of locusts that had plagued the continent.

This year, massive fiery meteors were seen traveling east across many European nations. It also gave rise to the theory that the Black Death was actually extraterrestrial.

In August, one fireball was seen traveling over Paris, France.

On December 20, a meteor described as a “pillar of fire” was seen over the papal palace in Avignon, France. The pillar appeared at sunrise and lingered for an hour.

During this time, wine in casks across Europe was reported to be “turbid.” The cloudy sediment did not clear.

This startling sample of nature’s wrath has kept scholars and interested parties debating for centuries. So, do you think the atmospheric phenomena were nature’s warning? Or do you believe the plentiful natural disasters created a perfect storm that ushered in the plague?

Series Navigation<< Masquerade of the Black DeathThe Weird Weather of 1348 >>

5 thoughts on “Countdown to the Black Fever

  1. Hey Laura,

    I was just wondering if you have further evidence to confirm a connection between the natural phenomena and the black plague? How can the two be associated? Yes, the timing seems uncanny, but is that enough to substantiate a possible relationship between the3 two? What are your thoughts on the ‘extraterrestrial’ theory? Is it possible the earth somehow created or released a deadly virus when such phenomena occurred? What are your thoughts on this?

    Please keep in mind, I am not at all disagreeing with you, just seeking more insight on this. I find It is extremely fascinating.

    1. Hello! No, there’s no concrete evidence linking the two, but it’s incredibly suspicious. Most of the disasters stopped when the plague did, too. I suspect that had a lot to do with both the eras of the flagellants and the Inquisition. People had to be terrified, especially since there was no idea of germs or viruses. As far as most laypeople at the time, they genuinely believed it was the end of the world.

      Personally, I think it was a superbug that bordered the supernatural in terms of viciousness and speed. I’ve been fascinated with the Black Death for years and have read most of the old books on it. I think the weather played a role in its spread and its adaptation, but I can’t say just how significant it was.

      I think I mentioned it earlier, but we still have bubonic epidemics today in lesser developed nations. It spreads at about 15 miles per day with automobiles, trains, and airplanes. In the 14th Century, with only horse and foot traffic, it spread at about 250 miles a day. It was much, much more aggressive. Plus, it seemed to almost have a mind of its own. In Venice and Florence, they sealed up entire households (and all occupants in it) if one single person caught the plague. They would open the house days later and find survivors that the plague didn’t touch, but everyone else in the home would be dead.

      1. Laura,

        I am aware of the possibility the natural phenomena involved expedited the transportation of this “superbug” across Europe. I guess I was curious if the former played a creative role regarding the latter.

        Needless to say, a connection between the two is apparent, and we still see signs of it today in different forms. Whenever a natural disaster hits, those residing in surrounding areas exhibit symptoms associated with illness, usually life-threatening. This sort of correlation isn’t new, nor is it indigenous to the 14th century. I do agree it was more aggressive at that time because of the human mindset and the lack of knowledge and technology to prevent or address it. This is why such occurrences are seen/experienced less prevalently in the current time. The black plague and the natural phenomena that led to it provided a study for future civilizations there and abroad, so as morbid and ironic as it sounds, these phenomena ultimately served a beneficial role in human survival.


        1. Yes, I think most things I’m interested in turn out to be morbid…lol.

          I am amazed every time I read about that period that the human race not only survived, but replenished the world as they have. I am astounded that our ancestors survived that horrific era and hope it speaks about the strength we might have if we faced the same.

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